I’m pumped about today’s post because it’s the first of a three part series I’m doing called “Maximize Your Running.” Last week I prefaced this by giving you a guide on How to Build your Weekly Training Plan, where I briefly shared a bunch of different types of runs and how they can intertwine into your weekly schedule. Today I’m going to break them down further and explain why changing it up can help you train smarter, become faster, and prevent you from burning out before race day. In the following weeks I’m going to touch on how cleaning up your diet can improve running and how community and inspiring others can make the entire experience more enjoyable.
In the spirit of thinking out loud and what’s new with me, I can finally announce that I have some races picked out for the year and am going to start getting into actual training. I’m excited to be competitive again and am happy that I maintained my fitness level during my “off time” so it won’t be too difficult of a transition. My most exciting news in racing, however, is that I’m now a 2016 Race 13.1 ambassador, which means I’ll be doing a bunch of a half marathons and getting to connect with other people planning on doing them too!
Race 13.1 originated in North Carolina and now they put on a bunch of half marathons all over the southeast and are still expanding. I’ll definitely be doing the one in Memphis on April 9th and then hopefully the one in Nashville again in October. Last year, if you don’t recall I PR’d at their race on Halloween so I took that as a good sign and really enjoyed the event as a whole.
I’m not sure if I’ll do absolutely all of these, but right now, here’s a rough landscape of the other races I have my eye on.
In a second I’m talking about variety in training, but I think the same principal is also important in racing. My first half will come pretty soon in the season so I might not necessarily be going for a PR. After that, however, I’d like to train more seriously to break 1:30 and I want to use shorter distances races to do that. Signing up for 5k’s, 4 milers, and 10k’s will challenge me to do build up my speed, which I can then translate to distance.
I think we can all agree that burn out is real in any aspect of life that we really invest ourselves in. You have to find that balance between striving for what you’re capable of accomplishing and not going too hard too fast and completely expending yourself. Running is the same way.
Wether you’re planning on doing a lot of races this year or just working up to one big one, burning out is a risk we all take. Variety is a great way to prevent against this because there’s such thing as over training. You could become injured, be worn down before the race, and/or find yourself mentally exhausted. For this reason, I believe in training smarter as opposed to harder. You don’t necessarily need to add an extra day of training or more milage to pull that PR. In some cases, doing so could even hurt you.
Variety is also important to boost your performance so that the equation of speed, stamina, endurance, strength, and mentality are all balanced to give you the best race possible. If you focus on only long and everyday “maintenance” runs, you might have excellent endurance and stamina, but be majorly lacking in speed and the mental toughness that comes with pushing your physical limits.
Now that we realize the importance of variety, I’m going to use the graphic from last week’s post about how to incorporate different types of runs into your weekly plan. Not only can you try a whole different type of run, but there are even subcategories of standard workouts that you can use in your regularly scheduled training.
Long runs have a bad rep to the outside world for being monotonous and if we’re talking about the typical “LSD” (long, slow distance) run, that might be true. This is an area where people could be getting a lot more out of their training by just giving a little extra effort without putting in any more time or distance. Incorporating a little bit of speed in your long run will give you the edge in your next race. When I worked with my coach last year, he had me do a lot of progressive long runs, which meant I would start around 8:40 pace and cut off 10 seconds of each mile until I was running the last 6 or so miles around 7:20 pace. They were pretty intense workouts, but it paid off in the marathon. Fast finish runs are also really great to do at the end of long runs to teach your body to endure the race on tired legs. It’s a lot like a progression run, but you would maybe run your first 10 miles at a more relaxed pace and then do the last 3 or so at or faster than your goal.
The possibility with track workouts are truly endless, but I think the most important thing to keep in mind is what type of race you’re training for. Always give yourself a good warm up and cool down and then build your workout based around distance. If you’re starting out with a 5k, incorporating 400’s and 800’s is extremely beneficial for that speed component, but if you’re on the opposite end training for a marathon, you’d get more out of mile or two mile repeats. I like this post on different options for track workouts.
Intervals are a another type of speed work, but they are easily added to get more out of maintenance (everyday runs) and recovery runs. They can be as dramatic or subtle as you want them to and I often use them in lieu of track work outs when I have a big race coming up. My most common example of this would be me doing a 6 mile run where I warm up for a mile at maybe 8:30 pace and then increase my speed to 7:50 for the next and alternate until my cool down. You could also do this with 800’s or even 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. I think one of the most beneficial way to use intervals would be at the end of a run to turn your legs over through fast strides. I do this often the day after a long run or a tough night on the track. I’ll do my normal 5 or 6 mile run at comfortable pace and then finish with 6 or so 30 second strides at mile or 5k pace with 1 minute rest in between.
Tempo runs are similar to intervals, but without the constant changing of pace. With a tempo you’d get in a mile or so warm up and keep a steady and elevated pace until it’s time for your cool down. I find these very beneficial when I’m getting use to a particular pace before a half marathon. My body begins to adopt it for a longer period of time and I can assess to see if it’s realistic.
Fartleks are fun to do because they are less structured and the whole point of them is to just not get bored in your run. It’s good for long, recovery, and maintenance runs just to keep you interested or you can even do it on the treadmill. I don’t always necessarily set out to do a Fartlek, but sometimes my 5 mile recovery runs at easy pace feel longer than my peak long runs so I’ll find something in the distance like a mailbox and pick up the pace until I reach it. It makes time go by faster and as long as you aren’t pushing too hard in a day when you need rest, it can be very beneficial to training.
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What race are you looking forward to?
Do you incorporate any of these runs?
Non-runners: How do you prevent against burn out in other aspects of life?